Letter: Proposed change to the Student Conduct Code has many flaws

Letter to the Editor

While I appreciate the nature of the Minnesota Daily’s editorial comments, as the author of one of the main complaints regarding the Student Conduct Code, I take offense at the claim that I do not understand the core complaint with the SCC.

While the SCC has been in the news lately for its disruptive behavior policy, this policy is not the sole dissension with the expansion of liability that was proposed. The free speech argument for disagreeing with the change is the strongest, but it is not the only one. Liability expansions without accompanying resources to manage them places any student group in a precarious position of being the arm of the University’s code of conduct office without the power or infrastructure to do this. This is the core of the issue and the free speech argument is only a facet. An important facet, but nonetheless only a facet. This charge places a Damoclean sword over the head of every organization to root out anything that might even remotely be considered in violation of the SCC.

I also take issue with the Daily’s complaint that the motive of sexual misconduct is a pure motive and should be supported on its face. If the expansion of the SCC were to specifically target sexual misconduct, sexual harassment or other violations that would run afoul of Title IX, then the issue would likely not be as vocal as it currently is. But the way that the rule is written is not specific to those violations and is instead broadly applied to all violations of the SCC, belying the claim that this change is specifically targeted toward cases of sexual misconduct.

In addition, while there might be some issue with the nature of the language of disruption in regards to free speech, there must be a limit to the lawfulness of such activity. Note that this does not mean the morality of such speech, but the lawfulness. The whole idea of civil disobedience is that an issue is so important that the law itself must be violated, and the law must consequently also be satisfied. That is the nature of the “disobedience.” However, with this, the disobedience must be deliberately and actively chosen by each member, not foisted upon a student by mere association.

In short, the changes to the SCC that were proposed had major flaws due to broad language and a lack of defining restrictions. While the spirit of the rule is important, the language of the rule is just as critical, as it’s the last bulwark of appeal and where judgement ultimately rests.

I would ask that the Daily reconsider its examination of the issue.

This letter has been lightly edited for style and grammar.

Nick Ames is a University of Minnesota graduate student in the Applied Plant Sciences program.